This week, the Supreme Court announced that it will hear a constitutional claim against the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2012. With more than 25 lawsuits filed against the ACA since it became law in 2010, it seemed inevitable that the court would agree to decide if and to what extent the ACA is constitutional.
The arguments will primarily focus on the law’s individual mandate requirement and accompanying penalties for noncompliance, but will also address the planned Medicaid expansion. The court decision, expected by June 2012, could have several different outcomes: the law is constitutional as it stands; the individual mandate is unconstitutional, but the rest of the law remains; or the individual mandate is unconstitutional and so integral to the ACA that the rest of the law crumbles. Alternatively, the court may decide it cannot make a determination until April 2015, when individuals will be first become subject to penalties for not having health insurance and the case becomes “ripe” enough to hear.
Raising Women’s Voices has been a vocal advocate of health care reform since deliberations for the law began in 2009 because we know women need access to quality affordable health care. We agree with the constitutional law experts and economists who say the law is perfectly legal. We also agree with the 90% of Americans who say the health care system we had before was broken. As more of the benefits of the ACA are put into place, it is easy to see its vast improvements to health care and impossible to imagine it going back to the way it was: a broken system that was too expensive, covered too few people and discriminated against women.